Commencement could be moved a week earlier

Changes would affect Class of 2020 at earliest

The Office of the Vice Chancellor is in the process of trying to move Commencement one week earlier starting in 2020, Vice Chancellor Ian Waitz said in an interview with The Tech.

To do this, seven days from elsewhere in the academic calendar need to be shifted. There are three proposed ways to do so, all of which involve making a few small changes that add up to seven days.

Currently, the spring semester ends in the following way: the last day of classes falls on a Thursday, followed by a Friday and a weekend known as “reading days,” and then five days of final exams. After finals, there are almost two weeks of administrative days before the hooding and commencement ceremonies.

All three of the proposed calendar changes involve cutting four of the administrative days. They differ in how they make up the remaining three days.

The first proposal would replace the final class day of IAP with spring registration day. The finals period would be shortened from five days to four, and it would straddle the weekend currently devoted to part of the reading period. An additional reading day would be added to allow students to prepare for the earlier finals. To make up the final day needed, the grading period given to professors after finals would also be shortened by one day.

The second option would keep the current length of IAP, but spring registration would be held on the final Friday of IAP. Class would be held the Tuesday after Patriot’s Day, and the remaining changes would be identical to the first proposal.

The final proposal would also hold spring registration on the final day of IAP, but it would keep the four-day-long Patriot’s Day weekend as is. Instead, it would reduce the finals period by one day without adding a reading day back by holding a day of finals on Saturday. In this option, the end of the semester would consist of a sequence of two reading days, finals on Saturday, another reading day on Sunday, and then three more days of finals. The grading period would also be reduced by one day.

For any changes to affect the Class of 2020, they must be approved this spring. In late March, the OVC plans to bring a proposal to the faculty, and vote on it at a faculty meeting in April.

The OVC proposed the change primarily for three reasons, Waitz said. First, students in rental units might have to pay an additional month’s rent to stay as late as they do for Commencement.

Second, keeping the dorms occupied later is logistically challenging. Dorm upkeep, such as painting and other maintenance, must be done during the summer. The problem is exacerbated by the need to house those participating in MIT’s various summer programs.

Finally, faculty typically do a lot of research-related travel, such as for conferences, in the first week of June. This is usually not a problem, because most institutions have their commencements in May. For MIT faculty members to attend Commencement, however, they must modify their travel plans accordingly.

The OVC released an anonymous survey, which can be found on its website, to collect feedback on the schedule changes.